Rotherham Petition: No to Political Point Scoring – Put Children First!

In our view, the first priority should be the needs of the children involved, not political point-scoring. The Adoption and Children Act 2002, section 1(5) is explicit in stating that:

“In placing the child for adoption, the adoption agency must give due consideration to the child’s religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural and linguistic background.”

While we do not know the details of the Rotherham case, social work managers clearly had grounds for concern that foster carers who were members of a Party recently described by David Cameron as ‘closet racists’ might not be in the best position to meet the needs of these three children from a minority ethnic background.

Research shows that while many ethnic minority children looked after by white carers have had a positive experience, others have not. We call, therefore, for an end to the political point-scoring by both UKIP and Gove and for a calm and mature national discussion as to how we can best meet the needs of these and other children in need of substitute care.

Report: SWAN North East Conference

After an introduction on the current impact of the government cuts on the north-east by Terry Murphy (Teesside University) there were presentations from Don McDonald from our sister organisation ‘In Defence of Youth Work’  and from SWAN founders Michael Lavalette (Liverpool Hope University) and Iain Ferguson (University of the West of Scotland) on the history of SWAN and the need for radical and critical theory in the social work field.

Workshops were held on working with youth and in communities and working with an understanding that perspective of asylum seekers and refugees. There were also a number of workshops on understanding the theory and application to practice of ideas from radical and critical social work.

The meeting passed two motions on the current situation in Palestine as experienced by a former student from Durham University and on the current illegal detention in conditions of modern slavery by African asylum seekers in the Sinai desert. After lunch, which provided good opportunities for networking, the conference was drawn to a close with a presentation from Sarah Banks on the challenges of achieving ethical practice at a time of recession.

Participants came from across the region including social work and youth organisations from both the Tees and Tyne areas of the region and from Teesside, Durham, Northumbria, new College Durham and Bolton universities.

There was extremely positive feedback for the conference and a determination to build upon the SWAN network in the North of England comment on the conference are contained at the end of this report.

We also have links to relevant Websites and Open Access (Free) Journals on the themes of radical and critical practice in all its forms for  all those interested in looking further at the issues involved.

Full text of the two motions passed at the conference are as follows:

Motion One
This meeting of the Social Work Action Network (North East ) notes its solidarity with Summer Abu Zayed a former student of Durham University’s Youth & Community Work programme in her essential work with the children, young people and families of Palestine under what is currently the fourth day of a bombardment which has left at least 52 people including 11 children dead. The meeting also notes its solidarity with North East support organisations offering humanitarian and human rights support to Palestine and refutes any suggestions made that such humanitarian and social support of the Palestinian people is in any sense anti-Semitic.

Motion Two
This meeting of the Social Work Action Network (North East) calls on the UK Government to express its concern to the Egyptian Government and other Regional Governments over the human rights and safety of refugees particularly from Africa held in conditions of illegal detainment in unofficial private prison facilities in the Sinai region and subject to cruel and inhumane treatment including extorting ransoms from relatives and friends through the use of international Western Union transactions.

A full report of the conference, including radical, free resources is available to download below this article. Terry has produced a ‘rough guide’ to putting on a SWAN regional event sharing his experiences developing this conference, also below.


Solidarity with social workers in Palestine


‘This meeting [17.11.2012] of the Social Work Action Network (North East) notes its solidarity with Summer Abu Zayed a former student of Durham University’s Community and Youth Work programme in her essential work with the children, young people and families of Palestine under what is currently the fourth day of a bombardment which has left at least 52 people including 11 children dead. 

The meeting also notes its solidarity with North East support organisations offering humanitarian and human rights support to Palestine and refutes any suggestions made that such humanitarian and social support of the Palestinian people is in any sense anti-semitic.’


This message of support was subsequently sent to Summer, who sent this gracious reply in the last few days:


‘Dear Sarah, Anne, SWAN members and all,

Thank you very much for your great support and for spreading awareness about the current Israeli violations of the UN conventions and human rights of civilians and children in Palestine. I also would like to show gratitude and respect for your understanding and appreciation for the importance of APPLIED social sciences in making changes in the conflict areas such as Gaza Strip. I have been using the childrens & youth work tools to debrief and ease the suffering of the children around me such as discussion, drawing, colouring, role-playing, singing and telling stories, with a consideration for family atmospheres of course. This experience helped the children to form a different perception about bombardments and airstrikes, and move on from panic stage to making fun of the terrifying shells at some points. In a conflict area like this and a situation like that, sometimes I have to go beyond using activities (such as listening, playing or talking) and rather make a deep reflection for common faith and culture to use them as a positive influence. And for that, I’d always flash back [to] the classes about personal and professional development in my mind when we worked on faith and creativity at Durham University; and also go back to the fieldwork experiences. I don’t mean to be so much detailed about what I’m doing but I only mean to stress the significance of my learning experiences in the UK and assure my gratitude.

Finally, I will make a wish to have the opportunity to meet and greet you all face to face, if I get the chance to attend the graduation ceremony in January, and if I ever get alive from this situation. We are all following up with the news at the moment as there are some news about a possible ceasefire. We all need this ceasefire as the number of losses in people has raised to 100 killed, and more than 854 injured – most of them are children- according to the ministry of health and to the newspapers.

I’ll leave you with SOME pictures (Warning: it includes pictures for distorted, dead, and injured children)

Best Regards and good luck in your valuable work,

Summer Abu Zayed’



Accommodation for SWAN Conference 2013

Booking your accommodation well in advance of the conference is advisable and is also likely to be cheaper than booking closer to the time.


Backpacker hostels:

London Bridge/Borough area:

St Christopher’s Inn hostel (tel 0207 939 9710) :

Dover Castle (tel 0207 403 777):

St Christopher’s Oasis – female only hostel (tel 0207 939 9710 ):

Elephant & Castle area:

Safestay(tel 0207 703 8000):

Waterloo area:

Steam Engine

Youth Hostel Association:

More hostel information:


Hotels (from £57 upwards):


University Accomodation:
LSE (central London approx £30 per person for twin room):
International Students House (central London from £43):
Roehampton University (approx 1 hour from South Bank University by public transport, guest rooms from £34 per night):
or telephone 0208 392 3698


General London Accommodation Information:




Public Transport to the conference:

London South Bank University is a short walk from Elephant and Castle, where there is both an underground and national rail train station and stops for several bus routes. There is more comprehensive travel information, including accessible public transport options on the Transport for London website (see link below).

Transport for London Journey Planner: